Etsy, Inc. 401(k) Plan
Fossil fuel finance
Fossil fuel insurance
Prison industrial complex
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79% of plan assets are invested in the target date option.
Target date option: Vanguard Target Retirement Funds series
Most employer-offered retirement plans have what's called a target date option, broadly diversified investments that offer different "target dates" for investors in different age brackets. These target date funds mostly invest in index funds that are not sustainably invested. If a retirement plan has automatic enrollment, the target date series is usually the default investment option, also known as the Qualified Default Investment Alternative. When you sign up for the plan, your savings are put in a default investment, and most plan participants never switch. Even if plans don't have automatic enrollment, a target date series frequently serves as the de facto default, capturing more assets than any other plan options. For the overall plan scorecard above, we use the 2050 target date as the representative of the fund series.
This retirement plan has millions of dollars invested in fossil fuels, deforestation-risk agribusiness, and arms manufacturers.
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The figures in this chart and the tables below are calculated by cross-referencing annual data on plan investments for 2021 (using Form 5500 data filed 10/17/2022) and monthly data on mutual fund holdings from Nov 2023. The results represent a best-faith effort to measure plan participant exposure to various environmental and social risk screens using the most recent data available. The actual amount invested by the plan may be higher today as employees have made further contributions since 2021. These results represent stock investments within the plan's target date and equity funds, and do not capture any risky investments in other fund types or through a self-directed option. The results also do not include any risky investments in target date options or equity fund options if those options are closed-end funds where we lack access to holdings, or collective trusts that we were unable to match to a suitable mutual fund as a stand-in. For more information, read our full methodology here.
1.45% of plan assets are invested in sustainable options.
While many people stick with the target date option, 401(k)s and other employer-offered retirement plans usually have a line-up of additional investment options. Some of these investment options may be marketed as "sustainable", "socially responsible", or "ESG" (short for environment, social, and governance). Sustainable funds often seek to avoid investments in high-carbon companies and other environmentally and socially risky industries. But it's important to make sure sustainable funds are actually meeting your standards. The scorecard for any plan options marketed as sustainable can be seen below.
Want more sustainable options in your 401(k) plan?
Learn how to work with your employer to ensure your retirement plan is sustainably invested.